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Creative, Designer or Influencer?

Reflecting on my time teaching undergraduate students social media, I am reflecting on the desire in this marketing yourself in this arena...


Teaching a module about social media engagement myself and the students reflect on the use and purpose of the social media market.


We encourage social media profiles as a way to market yourself in a sea of other creatives. The choice of platform was very interesting, one student wanted to only speak with other designers, and so wanted to develop her look online in bechance. She quickly found that to gain followers as a newcomer was a difficult proposition and that she was better off creating a portfolio on it and directing people from other social media channels to engage with her.


I agreed with her sentiment, spreading yourself all over the social media swipe and click forums to what end? Engagement is perhaps only as profound as the material you put into the social domain. A heart like on instagram = what? they like your image/your content/you... it does not have any other meaning and perhaps then becomes meaningless.


In Creative review - article by Emily Gosling 04/01/22 she discusses the lines "between being a creative and an influencer are increasingly blurring, as generations of designers and artists come of age on social media". She talks of the new wave of creatives who pose themselves as the face of their art and are online and infant of the camera, taking away the stereotype of a shy doodling arty person. Gosling says "One of the masters of this newish personality-driven mode is a Canadian man called Kevin Parry" Stop motion and explainer videos net him 1.3million followers on instagram... other influencers follow him... praise indeed... does that make his work any better than the person with 250 followers doing the same thing? it shouldn't do but marketing yourself on a platform and hitting the biggest following is a desirable outcome.




One of my undergrads had a bemusing Insta engagement piece, they took a short video of a friend spinning in a chair... of all his posts this one took a life of its own and racked up over 500 views and 100 likes. The video had no sound, no explanation and no hashtags.... something went wrong with the algorithm that day! But this piece was interesting what do we want to get out of our online marketing activity.


In the book What they didn't teach you in art school by Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley, Published in 2016.



It is a practical guide to being an artist selling your work and surviving in the business of barking your artists soul. Born out of a social media campaign on twitter, where they asked followers what keeps them motivated, what difficulties have they had to overcome. This became the basis of the book they produced. Using social media to gain information from a community to help one another but also to publicise their book illustrates the power of the social for good.


A contributor to the book Corinna Spencer - speaks of the usefulness of creating a virtual team of people to discuss art with, particularly twitter. She sights social media as a way to keep up with opportunities and follow projects others are involved in, "it helps to foster a wide reaching virtual community among artists."


The book looks to blogging as the vehicle for communication for the artist, and I would agree with this, the image on insta needs to be followed up by the words in your blog. the discourse between your subject and other people gaining feedback and ideas propels the creativity forward.


So being a Creative, Designer or Influencer are not separate jobs... the role of a social network for an artists is to provide an insight into all three areas. Designers are natural influencers, your designs set a trend, or become the 'go to' style for, say, Underground maps (see Harry Beck).


Creativity is something that not everyone is successful at. Originality v's simulation, on my social media feeds does mean I have to pick through the forever scrolling interface to find originality but I do discover artists influencers and creatives that make me think in a new way.

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